The Port of Albany is the oldest existing European settlement that was part of the first thirteen colonies in what was to become the United States. It is also the capital of the State of New York. The Port of Albany is also the northern end point of the Hudson River deep-water channel where goods are moved between ocean-going vessels to the routes of the New York State Canal System and the Great Lakes. Just 14 kilometers south of the Port of Troy, the Port of Albany is around 200 kilometers north of the Port of New York City. In 2000, more than 95 thousand people lived in the Port of Albany, and over 875 thousand lived in the greater Albany-Schenectady-Troy metropolitan area.
As the state capital, the Port of Albany economy is based on state government. It has some industry, including plants that manufacture machine tools, industrial equipment, electronics, paper, clothing, chemicals, and dental products. The city has become a leader in the nanotechnology industry, and it is the heart of a 19-county region called "Tech Valley" in New York.
In 1609, Englishman Henry Hudson came to the area that would be Albany while exploring for the Dutch East India Company. In 1614, Hendrick Christiaensen established the first Dutch fur trading post on Castle Island in today's Port of Albany. However, the new trading post was not wanted by the French colony in Canada or by the indigenous peoples of the area. A flood eventually destroyed the post.
In 1624, the trading post (called Fort Orange) was rebuilt a little north of the original location, and the nearby village of Beverwyck was incorporated in 1652. The British took the lands in 1664, changing the name of the village to Albany after the Duke of York and Albany (who became King James II of England). The Dutch retook the settlement briefly in 1673-74. In 1686, the Port of Albany was chartered as a municipality by colonial Governor Thomas Dongan.
In 1754, the Albany Congress saw representatives from seven colonies in North America meet to discuss the Albany Plan of Union, the first plan to unite the British colonies. While it was not adopted, it was the forerunner of the US Constitution. Philip Livingston, an Albany resident, was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Aaron Burr had a law office in the Port of Albany, and Alexander Hamilton was married there.
By 1686, about 500 people lived in the Port of Albany, and it grew steadily to a population of 3498 in the first US census of 1790. By 1810, it was the country's 10th biggest city with a population of over 10 thousand. The Port of Albany became the State's capital in 1797.
From its beginnings, the Port of Albany was an important hub of transportation. In 1807, Robert Fulton's steamboat line was launched from the Port of Albany traveling to New York. In 1825, a 1300-meter pier was built on the Port of Albany shoreline, and two bridges marked the port area of 13 hectares. In the same year, the Erie Canal was opened, giving the Port of Albany waterborne access to the Great Lakes. In 1826, the Albany and Schenectady Railroad linked the two cities, eventually becoming part of the New York Central Railroad. After these events, the Port of Albany continued to grow in importance as a regional hub for commerce and transportation.